Democrats in the Iowa House have voted to withhold some state money from a Dubuque hospital that’s been involved in a long, bitter labor dispute. Representative Ro Foege, a Democrat from Mount Vernon, says hospitals "should not be rewarded for bad behavior."
The Iowa House voted this week to increase the rates paid to Iowa hospitals for care of low-income Medicaid patients. But Dubuque’s Finley Hospital wouldn’t get the extra money as the House has voted to deny the increase to any hospital that’s had adverse labor board rulings, or safety and health violations. Finley was the target of an unfair labor practice complaint last year and two nurses’ strikes.
House Speaker Pat Murphy is from Dubuque. His wife is a nurse who works at the hospital and is involved in the union. House Republican Leader Christopher Rants says if the speaker wants to punish the hospital, that’s his business. But when they do it in such a manner that potentially punishes my hospital and every other hospital in the state, then it’s a problem," Rants says.
Rants says the House proposal targeting Finley could delay approval of the raise for every Iowa hospital. "In his desire to punish Finley for not getting along with their local union, every other medical provider in the state is going to miss out on any sort of provider increase when we already know we are one of the lowest-paid states in the country," Rants says.
Foege argues it’s legitimate for the state to deny the Dubuque hospital that extra money."We should not be rewarding hospitals who do unfair labor practices," Foege says. "Rather we are concerned about the health and safety of the workers. We’re concerned about the health and safety of the nurses."